Imagination is often remarked as a childish phase that serves no purpose and should be left behind after the preteen years. I disagree. Imagination has fueled solutions to problems at work, with friends and family, it has kept me young and un-jaded, and I have imagined happiness in the darkest of times. I believe in imagination.
My service year was coming to an end; I had spent the last ten months serving as a Team Leader for the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and now the team and I found ourselves on the gulf coast. Hurricane Gustav had just swept over the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana, and hurricane Ike lingered in its wake. The team started on an exciting track, traveling to Disaster Recovery Centers, helping remove debris, and blue tarping damaged roofs. The work was measurable with our hands and it was in front of our eyes. We were helping those that needed it. However it wasn’t long until all that changed.
Soon my tools consisted of a laptop, cell phone, eight incoming phone lines, and my workplace was a pale cubicle surrounded by white walls. Each phone call another heavy story of families losing everything and help running out. I was being worn down. I began to lose a connection in what I was doing and how these families were receiving help. I never saw the good achievements. As the work days turned to weeks, it all became harder and harder. I began to lose hope. Were sleeping on cots and eating MRE’s worth this? I needed not just motivation, but the courage to push myself and my team to continue. Imagination gave me hope, courage and the tools I needed.
Imagination stretched my mind past what I could see, past the endless bad news, passed the never-ending bureaucracy and lists of people who needed aid. It made me think of the impact I made on one person. I imagined a little girl getting fed for the first time in weeks because of food we helped provide, I imagined a family sleeping in beds instead of a car, I imagined what I was told about but would never experience firsthand. The imagination brought hope of what could be and what role I played in the big picture.
It is this imagination that fuels me forward even now. I imagine success, I imagine love, I imagine the family that I will one day have. In times of doubt imagination is always there. It pushes me forward. I come from a home where the marriage didn’t work out. However my goal of a single everlasting marriage is based on a love I have never seen. When the great human minds looked at the world and gave us answers, mathematicians, philosophers, musicians, scientists, all of them; they found them through something special. It is timeless, immense, and most of all powerful. That is what I believe in and always carry with me: imagination.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.